Aga Khan; parents too will get a piece of the action

By Azim Tharani
7 February 1997, The Monitor.

This is to clarify the issues raised by a few parents of students attending the Aga Khan Primary School, not least in Gerald Owachi's "Aga Khan School; Hope Turns Into Nightmare" (The Monitor, Feb. 03), and The Monitor editorial, "Aga Khan Primary Chiefs; Shape Up " (Jan. 02).

A few parents had queried the departure of Mr Ken Affolder, the former headmaster. The headmaster's termination related to the terms of his contract. The management committee would not wish to breach confidentiality or cause embarrassment to any former employee. However, parents who had queried the termination have now expressed their full comprehension of the decision. The private school has been undergoing a two-year phased re-integration into the Aga Khan school system. The rehabilitation, improvement and operation of the school has been carried out in accordance with an agreement with the government of Uganda. The final phase has just been completed in January this year. The school will now be able to establish all functional committees necessary to fulfil the requirements under which this rehabilitation process has been agreed. As with all other schools operated by the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) in East Africa, these would include a Parents' Association.

The AKES local committee appreciates that some parents may not have been fully informed and is happy that they were able to air their views at the recent meeting.

In addition to upgrading curricular materials and teaching methodology, the school has within a record two years, fully rehabilitated 39 class-rooms, an assembly hall, separate facilities for art, a library, a gym, tennis courts and a swimming pool for the school's use. Its planned safety provisions include the installation of an emergency generator. The expansion of activities permitted by these developments has been conveyed to parents through newsletters sent each term which also communicate the fee increases.

Fees for the school are among the most competitive of all private schools in Kampala, and teachers' salaries remain equal to, if not higher than, those paid in private schools.

Teacher training and resource development are, quite exceptional among private schools, among the Aga Khan School's highest priorities.

The AKES local committee is made up of professionals serving on a fully honorary basis and who receive absolutely no compensation for these services.

Like all schools operated by AKES world-wide, the schools in Uganda are as stated explicity in its charter, entirely not-for-profit entities.

Many parents have called to assure us that they have no concerns whatsoever regarding operation of the schools. It is, nonetheless important that the public we serve is aware of our approach to the provision of educational services, here in Kampala, regionally and indeed, world-wide.

AKES operates some 300 educational institutions throughout the developing world open to people of all races and faiths. Its presence in East Africa dates back several decades. Its programmes extend beyond Aga Khan schools, for example, through the School Improvement Programme in Kampala, which works primarily with government schools and have been independently evaluated by a number of international institutions, such as the World Bank, the Canadian International Development Agency and NORAD.

IN addition to students enroled in AKES schools, over 100,000 other students throughout East Africa, in both urban and rural areas, benefit from upgraded curricula resource materials and teacher training through AKES's School Improvement Programme at no cost to them or their schools.

**The author is the Chairman of the Uganda Committee of the Aga Khan Education Service.

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